Identifying your goal and the projects scope

Before you can begin to plan a project, you have to identify the goal, which isn't always as obvious as it sounds. Various participants may define a project's goal differently. In fact, many projects fail because the team members are unwittingly working toward different goals. For example, is the team's goal to perform a productivity study or to actually improve productivity? Is the outcome for your project to agree on the final building design, or is it to complete the actual construction of the building? As you analyze your goal and factor in the perspectives of other team members, make sure that your project isn't just one step in a series of projects to reach a larger, longer-term goal.

To identify your goal, you can use various communication tools, such as meetings, e-mail, and conference calls. Most importantly, you should conduct a dialogue at various levels (from management through front-line personnel) that gets ideas on the table and answers questions. Take the time to write a goal statement and circulate it among the team members to make sure that everyone understands the common focus of the project.

Note Be careful not to set a long-range goal that is likely to change before the project ends. Smaller projects or projects that have been broken into various phases are more manageable and more flexible.

See Chapter 17 for tips on avoiding pitfalls during project planning.


After you understand your goal, you should also gather the information that you need to define the project's scope. This endeavor may take some research on your part. The scope of a project is a statement of more specific parameters or constraints for its completion. Project constraints usually fall within the areas of time, quality, and cost, and they often relate directly to project deliverables.

The following are some sample goal and scope statements:

Project A:

♦ Goal: To locate a facility for our warehouse.

♦ Scope: By October 15, to find a modern warehouse facility of approximately 5,200 square feet, with a lease cost of no more than $3,000 per month, in a location that is convenient to our main office.

Project B:

♦ Goal: To launch a new cleaning product.

♦ Scope: Includes test-marketing the product, designing packaging, and creating and launching an advertising campaign. The launch must be completed before the end of the third quarter of 2003 and can cost no more than $750,000.

Notice that the second scope statement designates major phases of the project (conducting test marketing, designing packaging, and creating an ad campaign). This statement provides a starting point for planning the tasks in the project. In fact, you may eventually decide to break this project into smaller units of conducting test marketing, designing packaging, and launching an advertising campaign. Writing the scope of the project may encourage you to redefine both the goal and the scope to make the project more manageable.

Tip Keep your goal and scope statements brief. If you can't explain your goal or scope in a sentence or two, your project may be overly ambitious and complex. Consider * breaking the project into smaller projects.

Writing a simple goal and scope statement ensures that you've gathered key data — such as deliverables, timing, and budget — and that you and your team agree on the focus of everyone's efforts. These activities are likely to occur before you ever open a Microsoft Project file.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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